While the world is transfixed on the royal baby watch, millions of other “regular” women are in their own final countdown.
Prince William is expected to be present in the delivery room for the birth of England’s future monarch (and his first child), and he may be feeling every bit as nervous as Kate! So here’s what he might expect and here are also some tips for him or any other dad-to-be!
During pregnancy, labor and delivery, the expectant father often gets overlooked. So much of the focus is on the mother and baby (for good reason), but it is normal for dads-to-be to feel nervous, anxious or downright petrified.
At this “we’re-on-the-launching-pad” stage in pregnancy, a lot of these concerns center around the prospect of being present for the delivery: the delivery room is one of those places that some fathers would rather avoid at all costs.
For one thing, there’s a lot of blood. In an average vaginal delivery, there ‘s almost half a liter of blood loss. Even a dad who is a doctor, fireman, police officer or EMT can become squeamish when that blood is coming from his wife.
But it’s not just blood: pretty much every bodily fluid can be “expressed” (medical jargon for “fly across the room”) during delivery. And I do mean “nearly every” bodily fluid (amniotic fluid, urine, stool, vomit, mucus, tears).
Lastly, there can be screaming and crying and that’s just from the dads! The laboring woman can become emotional as well, and all of these elements really stack the deck for many expectant dads. Many wish they could somehow get a “pass” on having to be there, but they do it for their wife and their unborn baby.
Now, it’s important to remember that certainly not ALL fathers-to-be feel this way. Some are excited to be present for such a miraculous event and some feel absolutely no uneasiness at being front and center for the birth of their baby. I worship these men.
However, I also admire the men who are open and honest about their feelings of NOT wanting to be there. I once delivered the baby of a man who stayed in the patient bathroom for his wife’s entire labor and delivery. He spoke loving words of encouragement to her from four feet away, behind a semi-closed door. I’m sure he was somewhat embarrassed by his fear of seeing anything gory, but I actually found his emotional frailty to be refreshingly poignant beside his wife undergoing one of the most incredible physical feats that the human body is capable of.
So what should dads know before checking in to labor and delivery with his wife?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the nurses and/or doctors. L&D can be a very busy, hectic and sometimes stressful place but we are used to answering questions and in fact, it’s part of our job! Speak up!
Do try to be open about your feelings but in between your wife’s contractions MAY not be the ideal time at which to start these discussions. Delivering a baby (either vaginally or via c-section) requires tremendous mental, emotional and physical focus and if we are focused on you, we will be distracted from the baby.
This is the most important piece of advice: If you feel faint or dizzy, sit down on the floor with your back against a wall and your head between your knees immediately. When a nurse and doctor have to shift their attention from a laboring woman and her baby to an unconscious man, it puts multiple lives in jeopardy and disrupts the good mojo in the delivery room.
Do not bolt out of the room right after the baby is born to issue a press release. There will be plenty of time to notify friends and family. This is precious and special new family time and spending it with your wife and new baby are more important than handing out cigars. There’s plenty of time for that later!
If your wife is having a long labor or induction, during which eating is not usually permitted due to the concern of aspirating (or inhaling food particles into the lungs because of delayed stomach emptying in pregnancy), resist the urge to eat a huge meal with strong aromas directly next to the woman who hasn’t eaten in many hours.
And finally, enjoy this incredible process! Labor of your first child will be the last few moments you and your wife have together as a twosome before you become parents. Though things can get hectic during labor, it can also be a serene time, when time seems suspended. Cherish it!